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What causes neck pain?

Neck (cervical) pain can be due to a single issue or a combination of underlying problems. For instance, your pain may be due to muscular strain caused by holding your head at certain angles as you work at a desk job.

Arthritic changes in the cervical spine that cause wearing of the bones and joints in the spine can also lead to neck pain. This pain can cause you to hold your neck in an awkward position to relieve the discomfort, which may result in muscular strain.

Age-related changes in your cervical spine can also cause narrowing of the canal through which your nerves travel. As the spinal canal narrows, it compresses or “pinches” and irritates the cervical nerves, which can lead to pain in your neck that may travel into your shoulders and arms.

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What are common types of neck pain?

Some common types of neck pain include:

  • Muscle spasms – This is a powerful and unexpected painful tightening of the neck muscles. Moving this part of the body may be impossible. Muscle spasms may occur in response to a nerve, spinal disc problem or emotional stress.
  • Muscle pain – Sore or aching neck muscles may occur as a response to prolonged emotional or physical stress or overexertion. The neck muscles may produce hard knots called trigger points, which are sometimes tender to the touch.
  • Nerve pain – The pinching or irritation of the roots of the spinal nerves causes severe, fleeting and sharp pain. This discomfort may spread to the arm and hand, depending on the nerve involved.

Regardless of the type of neck pain you’re having, schedule an appointment with an experienced neck pain treatment specialist to find out what we can do for you.

What are the symptoms?

Depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms, you may notice:

  • Mild to severe headache that travels up the neck to the back of your head
  • Pain that’s worse when holding your head in one place
  • Muscle tightness and spasms in the neck, shoulders and upper back
  • Decreased ability to move your head

Nerve compression can also cause numbness, weakness, tingling, and burning discomfort into your shoulders and arms that you may not associate with a neck issue. Often, the type of pain you’re experiencing and its location can help narrow down the cause of your symptoms.

How do health professionals diagnose neck pain?

A neck pain specialist may order tests, including:

  • Physical exam – The physician will take a close look at your posture, specifically your neck and shoulders, and check for any abnormalities.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – This imaging test uses a powerful magnetic field, along with radio waves to come up with detailed images of your neck’s soft tissue and bones, as well as the nerves of the spinal cord.
  • X-rays – This test can reveal bone spurs or other degenerative problems that are pinching your spinal cord or nerves.
  • CT Scan – This test combines X-rays taken from various directions to generate cross-sectional views of your neck’s internal structure.
  • Electromyography (EMG) – Your neck pain doctor may suggest this test if they believe that a pinched nerve is causing your discomfort. EMG involves inserting fine needles into a muscle and conducting tests to gauge the speed of nerve conduction and figure out which nerves are not working properly.

What is the treatment?

Our medical team performs a thorough physical exam that includes a careful review of your symptoms and diagnostic studies such as X-rays to identify problems in your cervical spine. If they suspect nerve dysfunction, our team may recommend electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction tests to measure the health of your nerves.

Our staff then develops a treatment plan that’s tailored to fit your circumstances. They may recommend physical therapy, ergonomic tools and stretches while working at your desk, and Nerve Regenerating Therapy to decrease nerve pain and dysfunction. This innovative therapy offers a significant reduction in nerve symptoms for 87% of patients.



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